By Joanna

There are 3 characters I would like to introduce to this story which is set at a Fried Kway Teow stall located in Ang Mo Kio:

  1. The hawker
  2. The stall assistant/ replacement assistant
  3. The customer

The Fried Kway Teow comes in a few variations:

$3.00 (Standard)

$4.00 (Bigger portion)

$3.00 + $1.00 hum (add 10 cockles)

Fried Maggi Mee ($3.00)

Fried Bee Hoon ($3.00)

Each day the assistant turns up to work, doing the same thing :  taking orders and serving the dish to the customer.

One day she falls sick and someone else is asked to stand in for her for an afternoon.

This replacement assistant is the one who will put the stall’s user flow to the test.

She is the key person who would test the user flow at the stall. She has to remember the 5 items on the menu (not including details like the special orders which I will explain in a bit).

Here is her job scope in the following order:

  1. Take the customer’s order
  2. Pick out a peg to mark the order (Pegs are used to mark orders with special requests, such as more black sauce, no bean sprouts, additional egg, cockles only,  etc.)
  3. Prepare the lup cheong (chinese sausage), hum (cockles) and fish cake on a clean plate for the hawker to toss into the wok when he is almost done cooking.
  4. Serve the dish
  5. Collect the money (this step varies depending on the customer, but can be improved)

The replacement assistant often finds herself confused and flustered when customers start streaming in (for reasons unknown, these are typically uncles in their late 50s who like their char kway teow at 3pm). This results in frequent shouting matches with the hawker, because one is too busy cooking, while the other just has too many things to take note of, let alone remember which uncle doesn’t want lup cheong and who wants extra hum!


Months later, the replacement assistant gets called back for help again.

This time, she notices that things have changed. The arrangement within the stall  has changed. The plate of ingredients she had to take care off was now within the hawker’s reach. In addition the option of $1.00 additional cockles has been taken off the menu.

Her job has definitely become easier!

Now here’s the new job scope:

  1. Take the customer’s order.
  2. Pick out a peg to mark the order (This step remains the same).
  3. Wait for the hawker to prepare the food (this includes the preparing the plate of lup cheong, fish cake and cockles – which makes things simpler for hawker and assistant!).
  4. Ring the bell to call for the customer (self-service now!)

Thanks to the change of user experience at the stall, the assistant no longer has to move around so much. As a result, they are able to take more orders, and voila, ring up more sales!

The hawker’s decision to streamline the assistant’s work flow has made their lives much easier! And because of that, I, the replacement assistant, have stopped yelling at my Dad, the hawker, when we are working together.

Happy Father’s Day! (Oh, see those pegs there? Those are the pegs for taking orders!) Image source

This article was first published on Medium.

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